Tasting Notes - Dan Berger February 4, 2010

2004 Palladian Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($40): Superb aroma of tea leaf, dry herbs, and cherries. The wine’s low alcohol, 13.5%, is an anomaly today and the balance is impeccable. A gem available mainly at the winery, 707-963-4741.

2006 Palladian Cabernet Sauvignon by Winemaker Notes

Six years of organic farming methods are really paying off in the fruit quality. We are carrying the banner toward wines with moderate alcohol with great balance and structure. The Palladian vineyard is across the road from the Napa Reserve vineyard and next to Meadowood Country Club. 475 cases produced, estate bottled.

Polished and refined. Tightly wound at first, gains depth and richness as it opens. Bright nose of cherry and black currants encircled by a hint of cigar-box cedar. Some delicate floral notes of violets from the cabernet franc influence. The palate is all cassis and kirsch with a little cocoa powder. The tannins are silky. Finishes long and clean – classical, balanced structure.

After careful hand sorting, and four to five days aqueous soak in one-ton bins, the whole berries are fermented cool (72 – 75°F) to preserve the fruit flavors. The cap is punched down every six hours to extract the desirable fine skin tannins and evaporate alcohol. Finished alcohol 13.9%. Pressing is very gentle, "one light, slow, squeeze". The wine is barreled down into French oak from several premium coopers for twenty-two to twenty-four months in our aging cave. Typically the wine is released after two years of additional bottle aging.

David Mahaffey,winegrower
Palladian Estate Winery

2004 Palladian Cabernet Sauvignon by Winemaker Notes

The Vineyard.

Located on Meadowood Lane in St.Helena, the vines are cabernet and cabernet franc. The vineyard is not farmed it’s gardened organically. Four feet between the vine rows allows only human scale tools, not even a small tractor. It’s a lot of work and worth it. Each vintage produces only six or seven tons of cab and a little more cab franc, hence the 450-500 case production from this estate vineyard. The vineyard is located just across the road from Harlan Estates Napa Reserve project. I manage the vineyard as well as make the wine. I’ve planted some more cab franc in the last few years and it will always be a small special estate. Our crew cares for the vineyard, does the estate gardening, and builds beautiful walls and other features in natural stone

My Approach to Winemaking

I think of myself as a craftsman with occasional lucky intuitional leaps into something like art. Intentionally I work on a scale that allows me to control as many choices as possible. The forklift is my highest tech tool as it allows gentlest flow handling of the fruit through fermentation and pressing. Fermentation is completed in one ton vessels and manually punched down about every four hours for most effective extraction of colors, flavors, and fine tannins. You just can’t get the same effect pumping over in a big stainless tank! Another great advantage of fermenting in small open top T-bins is that some alcohol can be blown off during primary. This allows me to pick for ripest flavors yet still bottle with reasonable 13.8-14% alcohols. The wine is aged in French oak in our cave for 20 months before bottling.

The Wine

First impression is elegant structure and balance with silky smooth tannins tucked in behind lovely and complex fruit flavors reminiscent of classic Bordeaux. The fruit notes are Queen Anne cherries and cassis. Secondary aromatics are cigar box cedar leading to complex wet stone minerality.

David Mahaffey,winegrower
Palladian Estate Winery